March 8, 1942 -“Until Better Times . . . ” – Fall of Batavia.
March 8, 1942 – ominous silence from the Dutch East Indies this day. No news from Java in over 24 hours. The last communication from Bandong was via radio at 7:55 in the morning before shutting down, with the last message being “We are now shutting down. Goodbye till better times. Long live the Queen.” Since that time, there had been no news from the Dutch East Indie. Nothing but belated dispatches telling of the Japanese breaking through the last major defenses around Bandong; the military base and Dutch Provisional Capitol in West-Central Java. Another dispatch indicated that allied forces intended to retire to the upland plains around Bandong. But it added that any prolonged defense in these uplands was questionable, that enemy pressure was enormous and that the Japanese had complete freedom to bring up whatever reinforcements they wanted. And the Japanese had complete mastery of the air.
The fate of Allied forces in Java was unknown. The Dutch, Americans, and British Imperials were cutoff and it was feared no information would be gotten from them, perhaps for days.
Dispatches from Burma indicated that the Japanese soon would be taking the city of Pegu, some 50 miles north of Rangoon. The heaviest British tank support combined with aerial attacks was said to have little effect on the increasing numbers of Japanese troops, driving to the city from the East and the North. Japanese troops were swarming across the Sittang River in reinforced numbers. The British reported heavy fighting, with the allies laying down mortar barrages. But they added that the Japanese were still advancing despite best efforts.
Meanwhile, Allied sources in Cairo reported the Vichy government had known for the past six weeks that a Japanese Military and Naval mission was surveying the French island of Madagascar. The strategic island lies off the Eastern Coast of Southern Africa. It would make an ideal operations base for Japanese subs and planes, marauding along the merchant shipping lines from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. The Japanese mission landed on the island with the full knowledge and consent of local French and Petain authorities. The visit was said to be approved by the French, under pressure from Berlin.
And that’s just a small portion of what was going on, this March 8 in 1942 as reported by NBC Radio’s News Of The World.